If you have lived in your home for several years, you know how fast things can accumulate and how easy it is to lose track of where they are.
You also know that picking a location to store something isn’t always logical and that things can get out of place over time, even after you have spent time and effort to optimally organize them!
We have lived in our current home for almost 25 years, and have been married for over 40 years. We have accumulated a lot of stuff – lose screws, highly prized collectibles, everyday essentials, clothes that ‘might fit again someday’, tools, children’s artwork, food stuffs and more. Although I’m probably not the very best organizer in the world, we get along.
Here are some of the ways to get and stay organized that I have come up with over the years. Most of them are just common sense, but sometimes I think we all need a reminder on staying organized!
Store like things together.
It is easier for we humans to remember things if we have an association for that thing, or as Science Daily puts it in Associative Memory — Learning At All Levels:
“Human memory relies mostly on association and objects frequently seen together to become linked in our mind; when we try to retrieve information, one thing reminds us of another, which reminds us of yet another, and so on.”
If you are looking for a can of spray paint you used last summer, you are more likely to look somewhere that you have other cans of paint stored. So, store your paint together with your paint brushes, paint thinner, paint stir stickes, rollers and etc to find them easier later.
Store laundry supplies together – starch, detergent, spot remover, irons, fabric softener and etc. Store socks in the sock drawer, cutting knives in the knife holder, screwdrivers in their storage can (make one by cutting cardboard to the length of a coffee can, then spiraling it inside the can) and so on and so forth.
Store things where you use them.
Unless you have a very small house, you can save yourself time and effort by storing stuff where you use it.
Keep bath cleaning products in the bathroom along with other things (like rags, buckets and etc) needed to do the cleaning. If you have multiple bathrooms and don’t want to duplicate cleaning supplies, get a carry container (which can be as simple as a plastic bucket or cardboard box) to put the cleaning supplies – and store it in the most frequently cleaned bathroom. Then always start your cleaning chores in that bath and move to the others.
Store food in the kitchen or as close to it as possible. Organize extra foodstuffs by type, with the most current expiration date in the most accessible position.
Store computer paper next to the printer, store clothing in the room in which you dress.
It is just common sense and most of us do it most of the time. Look for those items that seem out of place and find a new spot for them.
Label where things go.
When I ran the church’s Mothers Day Out program we had a huge room for the toddlers with bookcases that had cubby holes for toys. We had different teachers on different days and the toys kept getting misplaced. The solution was to label the cubbies and shelves so that all the teachers would put things back where they belonged and also teach the toddlers to do so.
I carried this idea to our garage. We have the walls lined with shelves and each family member used to spend time hunting for the tool needed and then put it back in a different place. Once I labeled the wall above or the shelf below with the type of things that belonged there, we started having less trouble.
Put seldom used things in those hard to reach places.
It only makes sense that you don’t want to have to push past things you use just once in a while to get to those things you need each week. Every home has those out of the way, hard to reach places, whether it is the top shelf of a closet, the attic, the basement, a far corner of the garage or the shed outside. Use them to store those once a year needs – like holiday decorations, or party supplies. Sure, it can be a pain to get to them when you need them, but they aren’t in the way all year.
Develop habits/routines to keep things in place.
Clean storage areas at least every couple of years and de-clutter as you do. This will also reinforce on your memory where you have stored your things.
Share with others in the household when you move or remove things. Shared memory exists between you as to where that electric screwdriver or sewing case is stored. Re-build that memory when things get rearranged.
Get in the habit of putting things where they belong. When a bill hits your mailbox, put it in the same place each time until it is paid, then destroy or store the receipt in it’s place. When you get a new book or magazine, put it in the ‘unread’ pile and then eventually recycle or store it with others of its kind.
Help your children remember that there is “a place and everything goes in its place” by organizing their rooms and toys, labeling where things go and insisting that they participate in keeping them organized.
What tips do you have to keep your home and home chores organized?